The Strengths first...
The 2006 season aside (when he only played 8 games), here are Portis' rushing yardage totals... 1487, 1262, 1516, 1351, 1591, 1508. This just in... He's good. However, although he's still relatively young (27... he'll be 28 in September), he's had 2,053 career carries, which is 29th all time. Think about that - He's only 27 years old and there are only 28 players in the history of the NFL that have had more career carries than Clinton Portis. That's nuts - He's 27 going on 33. He has carried the Redskins offense for the past 5 years, and guess what... If they want to have any success at all this year on offense, he's going to have to carry the ball 300 times again this season. If he begins to slow down, they're in big trouble.
2) "Up the Middle" on defense - (the DT's, MLB, and the safeties)
Let's just get Haynesworth out of the way first... He's a game changing DT. He occupies extra blockers and frees up his teammates, he rushes the passer, he stops the run, he does anything and everything you want from a DT. But is he worth $100 million? Hell no. Still, he and another overpaid but talented DT, Cornelius Griffin, give the Redskins a dominant force inside.
On to London Fletcher... It pains me to call any non-Eagle underrated, but he certainly is. He's been in the league since 1998, is 34 years old, but to be quite honest, I don't see any signs of slowing... yet. Here are his eye-popping season tackle totals (starting with his rookie year... 14, 90, 132, 116, 147, 133, 142, 157, 146, 128, 133. Number of Pro Bowls: 0. That's just unfair. Side note - I also need to mention Rocky McIntosh here (he's not an "up the middle" guy), but he's a nice OLB, and I just don't have a spot for him anywhere else, but he deserves a mention.
And now the safeties... Initially, the fact that Laron Landry only had 65 tackles last year was a bit of a red flag to me, but with London Fletcher tackling everything that moves I can understand why. That said, as a rookie, he did have 95 tackles when he played a good portion of the year at SS before Sean Taylor's death. Make no mistake, don't let the 2 career interceptions and 2 career forced fumbles fool you - Landry can play. He has speed, he has size, he can hit, he can cover, and he's going to be around for long time. The other safety, 7th round draft pick Chris Horton was a really nice surprise for the Redskins last year, and he'll only get better.
Personally, I'll take Hank Baskett's wife over Chris Cooley's, but I'd strongly consider sticking my hand in a blender for either of them. As for Cooley, he's good, and he has a hot wife. He doesn't need any more accolades. Let's just move on...
1) The O Line
The oldest Offensive Line in the NFL? The Dallas Cowboys.
The 2nd oldest Offensive Line in the NFL? That's right... The Washington Redskins. Actually, the Redskins were the oldest O Line in the NFL until they released Jon Jansen, but I digress.
Answer - This... Here are the projected starters, and how old they'll be by October...
LT - Chris Samuels - 32 years old
LG - Derrick Dockery - 29 years old
C - Casey Raback - 32 years old
RG - Randy Thomas - 33 years old
RT - Stephon Heyer (apparently, his job to lose) - 25 years old. In a subplot, former first-round bust and 400+ lb. (listed at 370, but not fooling anyone) offensive tackle Mike Williams is also competing for the starting right tackle job. Hang on, let me say a prayer... Dear God, please... please please please please please let Mike Williams start at right tackle for the Redskins this year. The thought of this tub of flab with cinderblock feet (see pick below) just brings a smile to my face.
As for the rest of this group, I'll say the same thing I said about the Cowboys' O Line... With teams like the Eagles and Giants that each rotate 9-10 players along the D Line all game, this old O Line is going to be dead by the 4th quarter. Jason Campbell, my brother... You're going to wish the Redskins traded for Jay Cutler.
Yup, you'd be smiling too if you just signed a 7 year deal worth $31 million, even though you're really nothing more than a punt returner and an occasional trick play specialist. Not on the Redskins though... On the Redskins, Antwaan Randle El is the #2 receiver. In 2008, he started all 16 games and put up the following numbers...
53 catches, 593 yards, 4 TD. On a per game basis, that's 3.3 catches and 37 yards per game. That's just totally unacceptable.
Now, although Santana Moss is a really talented, legitimate starting NFL receiver, he's terribly erratic. He's had some really good seasons (79-1044-6 in 2008, 84-1483-9 in 2005, and 74-1105-10 in 2003) and some really average ones (61-808-3 in 2007, 55-790-5 in 2006, and 45-838-5 in 2004). He turned 30 in June... Let the decline begin.
3) The Pass Rush
(No Picture - There are no known photos of the Redskins pass rush in 2008)
24 sacks last season. On an otherwise good defense, that's terrible. There were only 3 teams in the NFL that had fewer sacks... The Chiefs, Bengals, and Browns. In case you don't already know, that's NOT good company. Haynesworth will certainly help in that regard, but I want to see it first, and that brings me to another question... Are the Redskins seriously considering playing Brian Orakpo at LINEBACKER? Redskins fans... Seriously, I need the answer to that. If you go through a season with only 24 sacks, it's an absolute no-brainer to put Orakpo at DE. The other DE's are such non-factors, I'm not even going to bother mentioning them.
4) The Owner
Antwaan Randle El - 7 years, $31 million
DeAngelo Hall - 6 years, $55 million
Albert Haynesworth - 7 years, $100 million
Andre Carter - 7 years, $32 million
Todd Collins - 3 years, $9 million
Derrick Dockery - 5 years, $26.5 million
Cornelius Griffin - 6 years, $25 million
Fred Smoot - 5 years, $25 million
Randy Thomas - 6 years, $28 million
Brandon Lloyd - 6 years, $30 million
Jeremiah Trotter - 7 years, $36 million
Adam Archuleta - 6 years, $30 million
Other concerns (Neither strengths nor weaknesses)...
1) The corners
Wait, aren't their corners DeAngelo Hall, Carlos Rodgers, and Fred Smoot? Aren't they good? Nope... Junk. Pure junk. (NOTE - I strongly considered putting this under "Weaknesses," because these guys do show flashes of talent, but simply aren't very good... However, if you take a look around the league, there are an overwhelming number of teams with bad corners, so D Hall and Co. survive the "weakness" tag.) Let's start with one of my most hated players in the NFL...
DeAngelo Hall - Junk. You know how old DeAngelo Hall is? 25. That's it - 25. So here's the question...
Answer - Because he's junk.
Question - Why would Dan Snider give him a 6 year contract for $55 million?
Answer - I don't know, but I LOVE having Dan Snider and Jerry Jones in my division.
Question - Is Eddie Royal the next Jerry Rice?
Answer - No, but the first time he ever stepped onto an NFL football field (Week 1 last year) he was matched up one-on-one vs Hall the entire game, and Hall sure made him look like the next Rice. The result - 9 catches, 146 yards, 1 TD. Embarrassing.
The other starter is Carlos Rodgers...
In 4 years with the Redskins, how many interceptions does Rodgers have? 6. Not good.
And finally, another guy that has a Hall of Fame mouth, but a game that doesn't match... The Freddie Mitchell of cornerbacks, Fred Smoot. I did a little research on Smoot, and I'll say this about him... He's very consistent. He has consistently made fewer and fewer plays throughout his entire career. His year-by year interceptions - It actually looks kind of funny...
2001 - 5
2002 - 4
2003 - 4
2004 - 3
2005 - 2
2006 - 1
2007 - 1
2008 - 1
2) Jason Campbell - The BIGGEST QUESTION MARK
I actually like Jason Campbell, and this will be the first year since he was 3 years old that he won't be learning a new offense. I'll keep it nice and simple with Campbell... With all the well publicized efforts of the Redskins trying to obtain Jay Cutler and Mark Sanchez, it's clear that the Redskins' FO isn't 100% behind their QB. The phrase "make or break year" sometimes gets thrown around a little too liberally for my taste, but this is a true make or break year for Campbell. How will he respond to the pressure?